The ideal, and unelectable, Republican candidate for 2016

“He’s boring, but he’ll get the job done,” should be the campaign theme for a dark horse, Republican candidate seeking the primary ticket in 2016.  This candidate could shock the nation with their unwavering desire to be perceived as boring.  One would guess that the current lot of front runners would not want to go anywhere near such a risky venture, but it would seem to be the perfect campaign for an enterprising, young campaign manager to try with a true dark horse.

I may be the most unsexy, uncontroversial, and unglamorous candidate this nation has seen run for president since Gerald Ford was voted out of office,” this ideal candidate could say, “But I might just be what this nation needs.” 

Picture 21This ideal candidate could then declare himself an“un-candidate” in a manner similar to the “Uncola” campaign that the soda 7-UP used to run.  Such a campaign would, surely, open its candidate up to the joke about them also being unelectable, and they would have to mount a battle plan against that, but if this candidate’s team managed to deal with that issue well, I’m guessing that a number of Americans would leap to their feet in support of such a candidate based on the –at that point— last seven years of the current occupant.

“I dream of balance sheets, sinking funds, resolving deficits, and the best methods for lowering tax rates, and if you dream of these things too vote for me in your state primary,” this candidate could say in an effective tongue-in-cheek joke that paraphrased former President Calvin Coolidge.

We’ve had seven years of sexy,” this candidate could say in his opening remarks at the first primary debate.  “Seven years of celebrity.  I think it’s time we got boring, and if there’s anyone that knows how to get boring it’s me.” 

This candidate could then turn serious and say:

I don’t think there are too many that would argue that we’ve had a derth of management in Washington of late.  Some may call that which has transpired over the last seven years as so scandalous that the country may never fully recover, but I believe that everything that’s happened can be resolved with proper management.  Our country cannot afford to get it’s sexy back, and it’s high time that we put sexy up on the shelf to reminisce over while a boring, somewhat quiet, but extremely charming, manager puts America back to work.   If you see fit to vote for me in your state’s primary, and the subsequent national campaign, I vow to you now that from January 20, 2017 forward, I will attend to the nation’s needs to the best of my abilities … Nothing more, and nothing less.”

At some point in the debate, whomever this ideal candidate is should locate the proper context to drop a line such as:

If you choose to elect me, I will consider it a personal victory if you forget who your president was after six months, as I tend to the nation’s business.  I will not be interested in increasing the stature, or the power and scope, of the office.  I believe that it has been inordinately increased over the last twenty-to-one hundred years, and I believe that someone has to step forward and put a stop to this, and if you agree I hope that you will find it necessary to vote for me.”

This would be one boring, Calvin Coolidge-style candidacy, that may not work in this 24-7 news cycle, Twitter and Facebook, and celebrity-as-president era, but what does a candidate, like a former Governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, have to lose?  That guy even looks like Coolidge, and he’s purported to be a budget cutter of equal measure.  While serving as President George W. Bush’s director of Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Bush referred to Daniels as “The Blade” for his budget cutting acumen.  His ideas how to cut the budget didn’t make it through Congress at the time, a Republican Congress, but that was beyond his control.  If Mitch Daniels were the president, and thus in charge of setting the agenda for Congress, one would think that they would be more amenable to his budget cutting platform.

The question that such a candidacy would answer is if we have gone so far with our desire to have a sexy, charismatic politician represent us on the world stage that there’s no turning back now, or if we have we gone so far that a boring, bureaucratic budget cutter might be exactly what the silent majority in America wants?

In every non-incumbent presidential election, such as the one that will occur in 2016, the various candidates involved do everything they can to distance themselves from the current incumbent.  If the candidate happens to be of the incumbent’s party, the efforts at keeping a distance are usually less obvious, but they still make an every effort to keep the current occupant’s name off the ticket.  The only exception, in the last forty years, being George H. W. Bush’s attempts to “Stay the course” set forth by then-current occupant Ronald W. Reagan.  If the candidate is of the opposite party of current occupant, they run a full-fledged anti-incumbent campaign.

The primary driver of this, I submit, is not so much that Americans disagree with the current administration –though this is debatable on a case by case basis— but that most Americans are simply tired of seeing the man on TV, in the newspapers, on the internet, and on the radio.  By the time the current president leaves office, he will be the third man to be the main topic of all of these outlets, 24-7, for eight years.  When those outlets have run out of substantial topics, they’ve resorted to dissecting his every thought, 24-7, for eight years.  The last three presidential tenures have been like long running TV shows that eventually lose favor with the viewing audience.  These viewers may have voted to renew “the show” for another cycle, as they have with the last three presidents, but they eventually just get burned out on it, and they eventually want the exact opposite of it.

With that in mind, the next anti-incumbent campaign should focus on being everything that the current occupant in The White House is not.  Every Republican campaign is currently searching for the ideal campaign theme that portrays their candidate as the polar opposite of President Barack Obama, and one would think that a young campaign adviser that’s willing to risk it all on a dark horse, would inform their candidate that being a boring, managerial-type that follows the boring document called The Constitution, and would never allow any of his appointees, or agencies, to run amok, might be the candidate Americans are looking for in 2016.

The problem with running such a campaign would, of course, be the media.  The constant presence of the president in the various media outlets listed above has not only increased the power, and scope, of the president, it has increased the power of the media, and they’re not going to give that up without a fight.

They would surely mock, ridicule, and badger this candidate.  They would surely bring up the fact that the last candidate won his seat through unprecedented manipulation of these media outlets, and that template cannot be unwound.

They would surely try to trip this candidate up with a question like: “What if a Treyvon Martin type of incident occurs in your tenure, or any incident that threatens to cause some degree of civil unrest in the nation?”  They would surely say something along the lines of “Being a representative requires you to give voice to their concerns of the nation.  How can you say that you won’t speak for the people?”  If this candidate’s popularity grew to the point that it looked like they may take the Republican ticket, the media would surely grow apoplectic.  Part of it would be based on their perceived lesser role under that president, as I wrote, but it would be also be based on what they’re grown accustomed to with this current president.

The ideal, anti-occupant candidate’s ideal reply to these concerns, would be something along the lines of:

America should have no interest in my thoughts on such matters, for if it is a matter similar to the one you’re describing, I will not be as informed as those local law enforcement agents on the ground will be.

“Other presidents have prefaced their comments in such a fashion, and they have then provided an opinion,” this ideal candidate would continue.  “I will not do so.  I will direct those that ask me such questions to those that have firsthand knowledge of the incident.  The reason behind this, as far as I’m concerned, is that I think that it does more harm than good for a president to offer an opinion on local matters for which they are woefully uninformed.  I will be complimented by the fact that you want to know my opinion on such matters, as anyone with half an ego would, but I will refrain from giving my uninformed opinion on it.”

When the issue of scandal in the current white house, and the Republican investigation of it comes up, this ideal candidate could say:

“For details on the investigation, and the resultant findings, I’ll direct you to ask that of the Congressmen involved in the investigation, but I can tell you that if any scandal manages to surface during my administration, not only will you find out how culpable I am in it, but you will immediately find out how I am going to rectify the situation.  Incompetent bureaucrats will be fired in my administration, but that does not mean that they will then become the scapegoats for that which goes wrong during my tenure.”

When the disbelief over the vow this ideal candidate makes to seek less exposure than their predecessor reaches a crescendo, this ideal candidate should say

“I will try not to come to the attention of any television camera more than once a week, and only that often if I am convinced that I can speak without violating what will be my administration’s motto: “Don’t speak unless you can improve the silence,” a line I stole from Washington Post columnist George Will.” {1}

Those of us that are so tired of a celebrity, acting as president –that integrates himself in so many issues that some Americans are simply tired of it— would leap to our feet.  We would wonder if it’s even possible, and we all expect the press to mount an instant, and ferocious battle against losing their headlines, if this candidate started to succeed.

Such an un-candidacy would likely have no chance in the 24-7, internet age in America, but wouldn’t it be interesting if this candidate made such a push, in the primary, that they had a Ross Perot type of effect on the 2016 presidential election?  Wouldn’t it be interesting if all of the other candidates began to believe that this ideal candidate’s success suggested that American voters now want to cycle back to an era where quiet men, quietly went about the duties of the president?

Campaign managers of both parties are currently searching for that perfect, anti-occupant campaign in 2016 to capture that element of the current occupant that Americans are most tired of.  What better anti-Obama campaign could a Republican launch than a quiet, un-celebrity, Calvin Coolidge-style “un-ness” campaign that promised to be more concerned with a statesmanlike, managerial approach.  It’s my guess that a candidate that promised to be seen, but actually heard very little, as they quietly goes about effectively running this country, would bring out those Republicans that have been sitting on the sidelines in the last two elections.



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